- By Daryl Impey
What an awesome feeling it was coming on the Champs Élysées! I had goosebumps the whole way around the first lap. There was an amazing roar as we came out of the tunnel and took our first left-hander on to the circuit. This will be one of the most memorable days in my career, that I am certain about.
I had always thought the laps were pan-flat but they aren’t. It’s actually all uphill toward to the Arc de Triomphe and all on cobbles except for the section in the tunnel which is on tarmac. It is a really bumpy circuit and filled with holes from the parade that they have there every year. The older riders in the team told me that it is getting worse every year. Anyway, we executed our plan for the day and our man Gossy was in a good position but Cav was just too good on the day. He is always difficult to beat but we always keep in our heads that he is beatable. And he is.
Our lap of honour was amazing and I stopped at each of the SA flags and thanked them for their support. Some I had known from earlier in the tour and some new faces out there. It is really a great moment getting your photo in front of the Arc de Triomphe and I was proud of what I had achieved. I had a successful tour and Orica GreenEDGE were really thankful and appreciative of the work I did in the tour for them. At our team dinner that evening, we all enjoyed some wine and had a laugh about a couple of the bad days. I know looking back at stage 16 now, I just laugh. Although it was the hardest day for me, at this moment I can just think what I looked like to everyone else. My teammates were even saying that they have never seen me that rough. I remember Baden Cooke saying “Everyone has a bad day mate”. That will stick in my mind forever. The best moment was coming into the Champs Élysées, I think only winning a stage in the tour can pass that feeling.
There was no rest after the Tour, I left on Monday morning to fly to London for the Olympics. I am staying out near the course leading up the Games so that I can do some re-con and also some good motor pacing sessions. On Friday I will head into the village and I race on Saturday. Although I will be the only guy from SA in Olympic Men’s Race, I still fancy my chances to be right up there. After seeing the course, it will be challenging and because there is hardly any recovery time it will be a hard mans circuit but the 50km of flat will make it a bit easier for those dropped to get back on should the front group not be working well. I am hoping for good legs. On Tuesday I felt like I had just started cycling again, but after today I can feel I am coming back. I’ll do a good 5 hour ride tomorrow with some efforts and some motor pacing and hopefully it will kick start my body and get me back into race mode.
Then after the Olympics, I will finally have a chance to be married again and spend some time with my wife Ali, I couldn’t have done any of this without her support.